YSUPD enforces seat belt use

A national seat belt campaign called Click It or Ticket began Monday and will continue through June 3. During these two weeks, local, state and national law enforcement officers will demonstrate a zero tolerance policy for drivers who are not wearing their seat belts.

The Youngstown State University Police Department will be actively enforcing the policy for those driving on campus, as well as on adjacent streets in Youngstown.

The annual campaign focuses on traffic safety to further educate and alert the public on the dangers of not using safety restraints. Click It or Ticket is also concerned with reducing traffic injuries and fatalities by increasing seat belt usage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 5 and 34. Seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50 percent. William Mays, a YSU police officer, is spending time on campus to pass out materials that offer information about safe driving. These resources include pamphlets, posters, magnets and coasters.

“The primary purpose of the Click It or Ticket campaign is to educate the general public, particularly here at the university, where we’d like to educate our students, staff and visitors about the potential dangers of not wearing your safety restraint,” he said.

On Wednesday, 75 people visited Mays’ information table.

“People have a lot of questions about the law,” Mays said. “They have a lot of inquiries, so I helped explain and clear things up for them.”

An observational seat belt survey conducted by Miami University of Ohio found that 69 percent of Mahoning County drivers wear seat belts. This number has dropped from 76 percent in 2010.

Ohio’s seat belt goal is 85 percent, and the goal for Mahoning County is 81 percent.

Along with distracted driving, impaired driving also takes lives.

According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, for every 139 licensed drivers in the U.S., one is arrested for driving under the influence.

“Our department has several officers that are on the Mahoning County OVI Task Force, so we actively take part in those checkpoints. We are constantly looking to enforce the seat belt regulation,” Mays said.

It is illegal to drive in Ohio without a seat belt. Mays said drivers are responsible for their passengers.

“The driver can also be cited with allowing the passenger to not wear a seat belt,” Mays said.

Oftentimes, people drive distractedly when a cell phone is involved. Mays said the Click It or Ticket campaign could counteract this problem.

“We want people to be just a little more cognizant of the rules and laws,” he said.